Recap of the First Presidential Debate, Sept. 26, 2016

On Monday, Sept. 26, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton participated in the first of three scheduled presidential debates. The debate was moderated by Lester Holt, host of NBC Nightly News, and was held at Hofstra University, on Long Island. The event centered around three themes, “America’s Direction,” “Achieving Prosperity” and “Securing America.”

The 90-minute debate was watched by a record 80 million people and finished around 10:45 p.m. after covering a wide variety of topics, including domestic and foreign policy, as well as character critiques of one another. Clinton and Trump both began with a strategic distance before engaging in heated discussions on issues of race, income inequality and conflicts in the Middle East.

Alluding to the accomplishments of the Obama administration, Clinton urged voters to believe in her vision for a stronger American economy and presence overseas. Trump quickly countered that Clinton and the Democrats have not delivered on their promises to the American people and that they should vote for an outsider. Perhaps the night’s most memorable exchange came during a question about temperament, when Trump claimed to have better temperament than Clinton.

Fact-checking became a centerpiece of the debate, with Clinton and Trump often calling for the others’ statements to be vetted for accuracy. Ultimately, fact checkers cited both candidates for making a series of inaccurate claims. Trump was faulted for refuting his 2012 claim that climate change was a hoax created by the Chinese for manufacturing purposes while Clinton was criticized for downplaying her previous support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, (TPP), a deal she now opposes.

Afterwards, there was plenty of commentary about the policy proposals offered during the debate as well as calculating who won. CNN viewers, The Washington Post, Cleveland Plain-Dealer and The Tampa Bay Times all ruled it a Clinton victory, noting her calm demeanor in comparison to Trump. WAMC’s The Roundtable agreed that Clinton turned in a more consistent performance than Trump, with the panel split on their opinion of Holt’s moderating. Meanwhile, Trump was ruled the winner in online polls by CNBC, The Drudge Report, Breitbart and The Hill.

While national and battleground state polls portray a tightening race, the latest polls continue to show Clinton with a sizable lead over Trump in New York State. The most recent NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll shows Clinton ahead by a 21-point margin. Still, six weeks remain until the election, which includes two more presidential debates and one vice presidential debate in October.